Using Adverse vs Averse

Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
It's hard to imagine that adding a ''d'' to a word can change the meaning completely. Adverse and averse are two easily confused words with different meanings. In this lesson, you will learn the correct usage of both words.

Overcoming Challenges

Many of us have faced adverse situations. We survive them, but some people thrive on them. Albert Einstein could not speak until he was four years old. Richard Branson, the successful creator of Virgin (Records, Airlines, Space, etc.) has dyslexia and struggled in school. Bill Gates failed in his first business venture. President Franklin Roosevelt had polio. Not averse to facing challenges, these people reached overwhelming heights of human and personal success.

Adverse and averse are tricky words because both adverse and averse are adjectives, or words used to describe nouns. However, they mean different things.

Computers can teach children to problem-solve adverse conditions.


Adverse is an adjective meaning something is working against something else. That something could be you, but it could also be a thing, like the weather (outcome: bad weather) or a computer (outcome: computer crashing). It is something harmful. Adverse is often followed by the word effect.

  • The rain storm had adverse effects on the electrical system. (the electrical system had problems because of the storm)
  • After surviving alone for five days with only water, the boy made a full recovery from his adverse experience. (the experience was difficult)
  • I hope that the termination of your project will not create adverse feelings toward our workplace. (bad feelings or feelings of ill-will)
  • The lightning might cause an adverse effect on your computer. (damage to your computer).


Averse is an adjective meaning to not like something, be opposed to something, or even violently against something. It is a feeling. It is usually used for people but can sometimes be used for financial matters. If used for financial matters, it usually means or is referred to as risk-averse.

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